Discrimination, Harassment and Accommodation


A distinction made based upon characteristics protected under the Human Rights Act and University of Alberta's revised Discrimination, Duty to Accommodate Policy (e.g race or sexual orientation) including matters that burden limit opportunities or withhold access for either an individual or a group related to advantages available to other members of the University of Alberta community.

A distinction, whether or not intentional, based on a characteristic or perceived characteristic referenced in the protected grounds that has the effect of imposing on an individual or group of individuals burdens, obligations or disadvantages that are not imposed on others, or of withholding or limiting access to opportunities, benefits and advantages available to other individuals in society.


Accommodation is the process of making reasonable adjustments to the delivery of services and the conditions of employment in order to alleviate any adverse impacts on persons that result from the application of rules, policies, practices, standards, terms of employment, or decisions, due to a characteristic or perceived characteristic referenced in the protected grounds. Accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the individual in need of accommodation, and is assessed on the unique circumstances of each individual. The process requires reasonable accommodation, not instant or perfect accommodation. The recipients of accommodation (e.g. students, faculty and staff) may be required to try different accommodation options. The University is required to provide reasonable accommodation up to the point of undue hardship. Accommodation neither requires nor implies that the University lower its academic or professional standards. Nor does accommodation relieve students of the responsibility to demonstrate the essential skills and competencies required by programs or staff of the responsibility to meet the performance requirements of a position in which they are accommodated. 


Harassment can include bullying, sexual harassment and racial harassment, and is a form of aggression that may include physical, verbal, or emotional abuse. Harassment can be any behaviour that demeans, intimidates, threatens or is abusive in nature. It can be repeated or can be a one-time incident, but it undermines authority and serves no legitimate purpose in the work, study or living environment.

Bullying is a form of harassment, which may include physical, verbal or emotional abuse. It poisons the work, study and living environment of the person it targets. It can include persistent, offensive, abusive, intimidating or insulting behavior, abuse of power and/or unfair sanctions that make an individual feel threatened, humiliated or vulnerable.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct or comments of a sexual nature, which affects the work, study or living environment that leads to adverse consequences for the person(s) being harassed. This can occur as either an isolated incident or repetitive occurrence.

Those engaged in this act do not need to have had the intention to harass and similarly, the individual experiencing harassment need not explicitly object to unwelcome conduct or comments. An individual's apparent passivity or failure to object overtly to sexual advances does not necessarily signal consent or welcomed behaviour, especially where a power imbalance exists between the individuals.

Racial harassment is unwanted comments, conduct or behaviour about an individual or a group that focuses on their race, ethnicity, origin or religion. This behaviour can feel leave an individual feeling humiliated, excluded, intimated or isolated along with undermining their self-esteem. Racial harassment violates the dignity and security of an individual or group(s) that it targets.

In addition to the Discrimination, Harassment, and Duty to Accommodate Policy, the University of Alberta has a Sexual Violence policy which defines sexual violence as any sexual act or act of a sexual nature, or act targeting sexuality, whether physical or psychological, committed without consent. This includes, but is not limited to sexual assault, sexual harassment, stalking, indecent exposure, voyeurism, distribution of intimate images, inducing intoxication, impairment or incapacity for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity, and other analogous conduct.